New standards body ‘will not affect parliamentary privilege’

July 1, 2009 at 4:21 pm Leave a comment

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The new Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) can be created without provisions affecting privilege, the Justice committee has said.

In a report the committee said financial matters are not “proceedings in Parliament” and therefore the proposed new offences in the Parliamentary Standards Bill will not interfere with parliamentary privilege.

It will create a system of independent regulation of MPs’ salaries, allowances and financial interests.

There will also be a new Commissioner for Parliamentary Investigations, to investigate breaches of the rules on allowances and interests.

The new Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority will be able to sanction MPs in response to a Commissioner’s report, or recommend sanctions to the House of Commons.

The Bill is expected to complete all its Commons stages today.

The committee said:

“The Government’s memorandum said “it is…impossible to end self-regulation without affecting privilege in some way”. However, the creation of a body to administer allowances and pay need not affect privilege because these matters are not proceedings in Parliament.

“On the evidence of the Clerk of the House and Speaker’s Counsel, the clauses affecting privilege may not be necessary to the primary purpose of the Bill.

“In the light of this, we welcome the Government’s decision not to pursue Clause 6 of the Bill and we believe that Clause 10, in particular, could also be withdrawn at this stage.

“This would allow more measured consideration of issues of privilege than has been possible with second reading and committee stage taking place on consecutive days.

“It would still enable an independent body to be set up in good time to implement the recommendations of the Committee on Standards and Public Life in the autumn.

“The very tight timescale for consideration of Clause 10 and other clauses involving privilege and judicial review, if they are retained, is likely to lead to extensive debate in the House of Lords.”

The committee said that there should be further consideration of the merits of a Parliamentary Privilege Act.

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Entry filed under: Committees, Commons, Procedure. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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